I think everyone must go through these: those jolting moments when you realize “hey, I’m going to die”. Not in an immediate sense, but maybe you think “The roads are bad today… what if I die on the way home from work?”. Or maybe it’s something like looking at a photo of you a grandparent, and wondering just how much time you have left with them.
Today, weirdly, what set me off, was a Twitter comment by Bill Cosby. Apparently, back in August, his death was a Trending Topics top list news item. He subsequently appeared on Larry King Live to prove that he is, in fact, not dead.
But he is 73. And he looks old, as he should.
That makes me remember the young Bill Cosby of the “Cosby Show” and “Jell-O” commercials. You can still see young Bill Cosby when you look at images of him today, but you know that he’s very very long in the tooth. One eye looks at you and the other doesn’t.. that type of thing.
THAT is what makes me think of how many years have passed since Bill Cosby was young. I remember watching him as a vibrant 40-something-year old, and now he is an old man. I have aged at the same rate.
I kind of think of 18-40 as a “holding stage”. We rapidly accelerate in our youngest years – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.. they FLY by. At six, you start to recognize what getting older is, as you fall into a rhythm of schooling and routine. By ten, you’re an expert, and by fourteen you are positively ACHING to be older, and have more freedom. At 18, you start to think “holy crap, what am I doing with my life?”.
From what I’ve seen, there isn’t a big difference between a 20-something-year-old and a 40-something-year-old. Maybe it’s a generation gap; a combination of our parents’ forfeited 20’s and the average 30-year-old’s angst that they should have their life settled. No matter what it is, it’s like looking up from your desk, your busy life, your fun and entertainment, your abject misery and your pure joy, and thinking, “Hey, how many years of these things are left?” And then, the realization, the mid-life-crisis of “now it’s time to age”.
Sometimes the years can span out like terrifying, awesome potential, and sometimes you can feel breath of the years on the back of your neck, like “It’s” right there – what I’ve been trying to do for years is sit down and have a fairly good-natured conversation with Death. “Hey, I’m getting older, and I am going to die… how do I manage this gracefully?”
My aunt recently set her Facebook status to:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO what a ride!”
I agree with the sentiment whole-heartedly, but it’s a little bit terrifying at the same time. Am I really skidding in sideways? I’m definitely “skidding in”…
When you are suddenly 70, or 80, 90, passing the benchmark of 100… was it because you lived carefully? Because you did everything right? Or is it ok to give up the ghost at 70, to have enjoyed each moment and really LIVED? And if either one is the case… will I have truly enjoyed these moments that I savour – a book, a bath, my dogs, the movies, the blogging even?
If I discovered that I would die in a year, would I do things differently, or would I find satisfaction in my daily routine?